Tag Archives: rules

Taking the high ground…

What do you do when signs like this condemn you to staying in heavy metal suburbia? Acres and rows of caravans, SUVs, Winnebagos and mobile homes?

© Rob Walls 2011

I’m getting the impression that every morning in Australia entire tribes of grey nomads uproot themselves and move off in a clockwise direction around Australia, like those great swirling schools of fish that are rounded up by dolphins. Millions upon millions of dollars, entire cities on the move each day.

The night before last, I complied for a single night for $45 for a “powered site”; a place to pitch my swag, park my truck and charge my computer, take a shower and walk 150 metres every time I wanted to take a piss. Faced with those kind of options, there is only one choice for me, become an outlaw.

Suburbia on wheels © Rob Walls 2011

In Exmouth, Western Australia, the tourist guide books recommended watching the sunrise falling on the ridges at Shothole Canyon in the Cape Range National Park. After doing a recce during the day, I calculated both sunset and sunrise would be good,. But risking driving in the dark over several miles of rough gravel road regularly crossed by kangaroos and stray livestock seemed a logical justification for ignoring the law. So, I found myself a well-concealed little campsite, well off the road, a few hundred metres from the canyon and pitched my swag to wait for the light.

My campsite at sundown © Rob Walls

I know which of these two campsites will linger in my memory.

Taking the high ground in Cape Range National Park © Rob Walls 2011

Late afternoon sky Shothole Canyon, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia from my elevated ridge © Rob Walls 2011

The brightest stars of the Southern Cross linger in the morning sky above my campsite as the sun begins to comee over the ridge © Rob Walls 2011

My camp at 6.30am, Cape Range National Park WA © Rob Walls 2011

The morning sun clips the range tops, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia © Rob Walls 2011

The irresistible self-portrait of every solo travelling photographer at sunrise © Rob Walls 2011

I could write a lengthy diatribe about loss of freedom, the shrinking of our horizons, the nanny state, but if I did, I’d have to admit that part of the enjoyment is in defying the restrictions that would corral us all in fenced-off, controlled areas where one’s wallet is captive to the conventional.

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Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Stock photography, travel

How I became an outlaw…

Once upon a time, I used to be a photographer who confidently recorded the world around me to generate a reasonable living. Then, all and sundry decided they would either prevent me from taking pictures by imposing regulations, or if they couldn’t do that, they would dip into my wallet to take a piece of the action by imposing permits and fees. They conveniently chose to ignore the fact that my pictures were part of an established symbiotic relationship that enhanced their profitability. Where photo fees are now imposed they are inevitably at a level which, in any sane society, would be equated with banditry.

This year again, because of these regulations, I have become an outlaw. As recently as yesterday, I committed the crime of publishing this photo of the Darling Harbour precinct in Sydney in a Russian consumer magazine.

Sydney's Darling Harbour by night. © Rob Walls

The magazine paid $38US for the privilege of using my photo. The former USSR is notorious for its low publication fees, but this was quite generous by their standards. My share: $22US. Not only did I break the law by marketing this photo, I had at the time of taking it, compounded my crime by shooting from a tripod!

Looking back through my picture sales, this year, I realise I am, so  far, a three-strikes habitual criminal. In January, I licenced for publication (through Alamy), this photo taken on Bondi Beach (no permit/no fee). It appeared in an Italian consumer magazine with a print run of 150,000. I wonder if the number of Italian visitors to Bondi increased this year?

Bondi Beach, late afternoon © Rob Walls

This picture of the Sydney Opera House was used once in a text book in January, and also in a consumer magazine in Taiwan, last March.

Sydney Opera House at sunrise © Rob Walls

Now, these organisations are content to take the profits generated by the tourists attracted to Australia by my photographs and those of other photographers, but they want it both ways. I have absolutely no argument with the authorities about ownership of the space or property. I don’t question the need to impose sensible rules that regulate the work of commercial photographers or film units in these spaces. That’s only common sense. But in every one of these instances, my photography imposed no more interference or obstruction than would any tourist.

What I do question, is the right of government to inhibit my freedom of expression…and their assumption that they own and can charge me for using the light reflected from these objects.

Footnote: These publications earned $US276.82. My share after commission: $US167.29. This is less than the Waverley Council would charge for one hour of photography on Bondi Beach ($150 application fee, $75 an hour).

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Filed under Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography

Ross Barnett asks hard questions of Peter Garrett

Writer/photographer Ross Barnett has long been active in bringing attention to the ridiculous regulations that govern photography in Australia’s so-called “national” parks. Here he asks some questions of Peter Garrett, the minister responsible and gets some answers that seem to indicate either the minister is evading the questions, or that he lacks the intelligence to grasp the idea that freedom of expression is a value worth embracing in modern Australia.

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